For many people fitness begins with the humble push-up. This staple exercise is performed by everyone from complete beginners to elite level military personnel. But did you know there are many push-up variations to help you target particular muscle groups?

Here’s our run-down of the 7 most simple and effective forms of push-up out there. Master these and you will soon build a bulging upper body.


Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions (reps).

1. Place your palms flat on the floor, shoulder width apart.
2. Push up onto your hands and toes, keeping your feet close together and your legs, hips and shoulders in a straight line.
3. With your chin slightly raised so you are not staring straight at the ground, bend your elbows and lower yourself to the ground.
4. Stop when your chest makes contact with the ground but do not lay down or drop to the floor completely. Remember to keep your body in a straight line and do not let your stomach touch the ground – you should be engaging your core muscles to prevent this.
5. Push yourself back up hard, ensuring your body remains locked in a straight line. You have now completed one repetition!


If you are new to push-ups or exercise in general then there is no shame in struggling to complete this movement. Instead of battling through with bad form, try one of the two methods shown below to make it a little easier. Once you have mastered 3 sets of 10 reps with the proper form, go back and try the standard push-up again.


Here you should perform the same movements, but with your knees touching the ground throughout as well as your feet. This takes some of the strain off your chest, shoulders and arms.


Place your hands on a raised platform and perform the movements as normal – the higher it is the easier the exercise will be.


Once you have mastered the basic push-up you can move onto more advanced methods, starting with wide grip.

Perform: 3 sets of 10 reps.

1. Get into the standard push-up position, then place your hands as wide apart as possible ensuring your chest stays off the ground and your shoulders, hips and legs remain in a straight line.
2. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the ground.
3. Push yourself back up.


– If you find this too difficult, try moving your hands inwards a little until you reach a point where you can complete the allotted reps. Over time you will be able to progress to a wider grip.
– The variations shown in the standard push-up are also an option here.


Once you have mastered the basic and wide grip you can move onto close-grip.

Perform: 3 sets of 10 reps.

1. Get into the push-up position, and then move your hands together to form a diamond shape between your fingers.
2. Bend your elbows and, keeping your elbows tucked in close to your sides, lower your chest to the ground ensuring your body remains straight as always.
3. Once your chest has touched the ground, push yourself back up.


– This may be uncomfortable or even painful at first, so if you struggle you can try an easier version. Simply move your hands further apart until you are able to perform 3 sets of 10 reps. Move your hands closer together to increase the difficulty over time.
– Another alternative is to use a raised platform as shown previously.


This is the final level of basic calisthenics push-ups. Designed to push you to your limits, it will yield phenomenal results when done with the proper form.

Perform: 3 sets of 10 reps.

You will need: parallettes or two strong and secure parallel bars such as dumbbells with a flat bottom or ‘perfect pushups’.

1. Grab both bars in the middle and get into the regular push-up position, making sure the bars are well rooted and sturdy.
2. Ensuring your body remains in a straight line as always, bend your elbows and slowly lower your chest downwards as far as you can comfortably go.
3. When you reach your maximum depth, push yourself back up again and repeat the process.
If you struggle to get your chest as low as you’d like, don’t force it as this may result in injury. Instead, practice this exercise regularly and you will gradually increase your range of motion.

The above is an extract from our eBook ‘Calisthenics for Beginners’. For more exercises and tutorials click the image below:

Calisthenics for Beginners